It wasn't old age, or disease: A "bluish foreign body" that was found in an English woman's eye turned out to be a mass of contact lenses, surprising medical staff who were preparing the woman, 65, for routine cataract surgery. They report pulling 27 lenses from the woman's eye.
"She was quite shocked," specialist trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria tells Britain's Optometry Today.
Morjaria says she and her colleagues were startled to find 17 contact lenses clumped together as they were injecting anesthesia into the woman's eye at Solihull Hospital, southeast of Birmingham. They then recovered another 10 lenses. Part of their surprise, she said, was because the patient hadn't complained of any irritation.
"When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable," Morjaria tells Optometry Today. "She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye."
The woman had not complained about problems other than cataracts, according to the report Morjaria and others published in the British Medical Journal. The patient had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for some 35 years, she said.
Morjaria said she hopes the episode, which occurred last winter, raises awareness for patients who wear contacts but might go long periods without getting an eye exam — perhaps because they order them online rather than in person. The incident should also raise issues for optometrists, she said, noting that the mass of contact lenses hadn't triggered an obvious infection.
Their BMJ article prompted one physician to remark in the comment section, "It does make one wonder about the appropriateness and completeness of the examination of the referring clinician!"
As for the surgery that had been planned — it was postponed, in part to allow bacteria that had accumulated to clear from the area of the eye.